Oakland-based horror lovers Ghoul have returned with Transmission Zero, their first full-length album in five years. The members of Ghoul conceal their identities behind masks and maintain grotesque alter egos, with names like Cremator. Their music is brutal and abject, rooted in an aesthetic of disgust and revulsion. They are also extremely self-referential and revel in not taking themselves seriously. There's a sophisticated sense of humour mixed in with the splattering gore, but what does this sound like?
Ghoul produce a clotted, congealing guitar sound with jackhammer drumming. "Death in the Swamp" has a demented surf-rock quality that recalls classic horror films and the way they become appropriated as comedy as they age. Transmission Zero might be funny, but Ghoul also know how to churn up filth and write a good riff. The tongue-in-cheek smirk of the band shouldn't be mistaken for an excuse to dismiss them.
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